How Braces Go To Work

Your Guide to BracesA model to show patients how their braces work

Everyone wants straight perfect teeth but many people are not naturally blessed with them. Thankfully, there are different solutions available to correct teeth misalignment.

A common orthodontic choice is to wear braces, also known as fixed appliances, which are designed for individuals with crooked teeth. Braces are also an option for those with a misaligned bite.

This guide is going to tell you all you need to know, including the history of Orthodontics, the parts that go to make a set of braces, and how we would implement a solution to straighten your teeth.

History of Braces

You would be forgiven for thinking that our ancestors were not exactly concerned about having straight teeth. However, it has been documented that Greek philosophers would have debates discussing solutions about how to fix misaligned teeth.

Brace like components were even seen in mummies who had bands on their teeth. Back then though, these appliances were not created for the living. For instance, Etruscans wore band-like braces to make sure that their teeth would stay intact. At that time, they were in preparation for the afterlife.

As you can imagine, the materials used before were quite different. While today, metal brackets are used, in the early beginnings of the practice, the main material used was catgut. This fibre was taken from a sheep or horse and cords were made to bond with the teeth.

It may sound strange but this material is commonly used to create many things, even today. Catgut is primarily utilised for making strings for instruments, such as violins, cellos, and harps, while even making an appearance in the string on tennis rackets.

Aulus Cornelius Celsus, a Roman Philosopher, was the first person to ever record treating teeth problems. However, it was only until the 18th century when real research on dental health started.

Comparing Braces: Then vs Now

Orthodontics is a specialised branch of dentistry. It focuses primarily on the growth of the teeth, face and head, as well as the development of occlusion. This speciality treats abnormalities in the bite (malocclusion) and various anomalies seen with the teeth and jaws.

The braces that we have today are so different from their ancestors. However, they all have the same purpose, which is to straighten teeth. Let us compare and see how these appliances evolved over the years:

Ancient Times

The well-respected Hippocrates and Aristotle were recognised as the first to seek solutions for straightening teeth. Documents show that they tried to look for methods around 400 to 300 BC.

In Italy, which was once was home to a large Etruscan community, the dead were discovered with appliances in their mouth. They linked the teeth together to prevent them from collapsing. A tomb in Rome also had mummified remains with gold wire surrounding the teeth.

Documentation was found in the same site, which confirmed that the wires were used as a form of a dental device.

18th Century

Jumping ahead a little, Dentistry and Orthodontics owe its origin to France. This is where initial treatments and methods were documented in detail. A dentist by the name Pierre Fauchard who has been credited as the “father of modern dentistry.” Pierre published a book regarding the methods of straightening teeth entitled “The Surgeon Dentist” in 1728.

In 1754, Louis Bourdet published another book that talked about tooth alignment. He was also the first-ever dentist to perform an extraction of the bicuspids (premolar teeth) to reduce crowding.

19th Century

As mentioned above, this period was when orthodontistry was introduced. In 1819, the first ever wire crib was utilised. Different materials were soon available for use in helping with tooth alignment. These materials included the following:

  • Steel
  • Gold
  • Platinum
  • Vulcanite
  • Gum rubber
  • Copper

Brass was also used to form ligatures, hooks, and loops. In 1843, the first gum elastics were created by Edward Maynard. Seven years later, braces were designed using rubber bands.

20th Century

If you had to pinpoint one person, Edward H. Angle, also known as the ‘Father of Modern Orthodontics is the man to thank. Angle pioneered techniques and formed the speciality, even coining the term malocclusion which is still used today. The term malocclusion was of Angle’s coining, still in use today.

As materials and technology advances, soon stainless steel had replaced gold as the main material. Eventually, in the 1980s colours and ceramic technologies became ever more used, allowing for more of a unique look for those in need of braces.

The Modern-Day

Technology has come a long way and so has orthodontics. Treatments are now digitally created using a 3D model. Customising orthodontic brackets and archwires can be performed with the help of computers. Users can also opt for clear aligners or ceramic brackets. Depending on your needs and even your wants, there are a range of options available to you.

Among the top options are ceramic braces, which have brackets that blend with the natural colour of the teeth. This type is non-removable so you will have to wear it 24 hours daily until the treatment is completed. Ceramic almost has the same colour as the teeth and therefore, you will not have a problem with the visibility. Note, however, this type uses metal wires. Many patients choose ceramic braces because they are economical and effective at the same time.

Having the right Orthodontic tools for the job is vital

It may seem intimidating, but every care is taken to make sure your braces go on smoothly.

Another preference is to choose clear aligners, which are plastic removable appliances that move teeth. With this removable option, it is still recommended that you wear it 22 hours daily. There are many clear aligner products on the market, ‘Spark’ is one example and ‘Invisalign’ is another, they clear and transparent, making them a favourite of those who want to have their braces as less noticeable as possible.

Finally, the incognito braces are, as the name suggests, hidden. They are attached on the insides of the teeth and cannot be removed until the end of the treatment. The brackets used are gold. This option is quite expensive, however, it is best for those who want to hide their braces from view.

How Braces Work

If you are looking for a simple guide on how your braces work. You set up a meeting with Oasis Orthodontics, Dr Anthony places the braces on your teeth, with a few check-ups along the way and sometime later. Your smile is transformed, teeth perfectly aligned and you’re selfie-ready.

In reality, it is more complicated than this. There is a science and expert knowledge behind each treatment. Braces work by moving the teeth to align them correctly. Every mouth is unique, which means it takes your Orthodontist considerable time to formulate the best plan to move the teeth into the correct positions.

Orthodontist consulting with patient regarding braces

Your Orthodontist is with you every step of the way to explain the process

You can think of Orthodontics like a long road trip, your Orthodontist is your navigator and steering your teeth in the right direction. At Oasis Orthodontics, with every visit to Dr Anthony, he makes sure that your teeth are heading in the right direction and your journey is a success.

Believe it or not, teeth move – in both adults and children. Tiny ligaments connect the teeth and the bone. This connection enables very slight movements. The ligaments protect the teeth so they do not move more than they should. You can compare them to shock absorbers since they protect the teeth when you bite down too hard, whether accidentally or intentionally. The ligaments are also tasked to send signals to the brain.

When you wear braces, slight yet constant pressure is applied to each tooth. The normal reaction of the body is to aid the tooth in repositioning itself in the bone. The jaw also undergoes minor changes in shape to adapt to the continuous pressure that the braces apply on the teeth.

Once again, it seems simple but this contraption is more sophisticated than you may think. To ensure proper alignment, tools and components must work together to achieve the goal.

Parts of Braces

Before anything else, there are different types of braces. Although they work similarly, they have different processes involved, often because of the materials used. For instance, regular or traditional braces have the following components and they react with one another to straighten the teeth effectively:

  • Bracket: It is comprised of ceramic or metal that is placed on each tooth. When linked with other brackets using the archwire, it becomes a group that what people see as the braces themselves. The brackets are bonded together using dental glue. They can be coloured or made of ceramic to resemble the natural colour of teeth.
  • Archwire: This metal wire is thin and connects each bracket to the next. The wires help the brackets move the teeth to the desired place. During a course of orthodontic treatment, a number of wires are commonly used, which vary in material and thickness, all with a specific aim.
  • Modules: The elastic ties are also called elastic rings, doughnuts, and ligature elastics. They tie the archwire to the brackets so they remain in place. There are various colours available, which make them popular for children and teens. Even adults find it interesting to have the ability to change the colours every time they visit the orthodontist.
  • Elastic bands: Made of rubber, the bands are usually applied in cases when more pressure is required for teeth straightening. Rubber bands hook the upper teeth brackets to the ones placed on the lower teeth.

When all those components are put together, the appliance works seamlessly to rearrange teeth. Brackets hold the archwire, which is responsible for guiding the teeth movement. The wires pull the teeth so they move in the right direction and eventually become perfectly aligned.

Some patients may require orthodontic bands, which ensure stronger hold for the brackets. Many people though can have their brackets without needing bands. Spacers may also be used if bands are necessary. Bands are fitted between the teeth and, as the name suggests, create space so the orthodontist can add the bands.

Every person has different needs, which is why treatment can vary significantly. A patient may only require small adjustments and therefore does not need many components. On the other hand, some people may need varying styles of treatments over several years.

How Braces Encourage Teeth Movement

A process, which is known as bone remodelling, applies to braces. These dental appliances apply constant pressure against the teeth. Bones that hold the teeth will move and ultimately adapt to the new alignment, holding the teeth in the correct position.

The brackets and archwire will start moving the teeth. During the process, two parts of the mouth will be most affected. The first one is the periodontal ligament or membrane. It is the section around the root of the teeth. The second is the alveolar bone, which is where the periodontal membrane is attached.

The remodelling procedure is a biomechanical response. It directs how teeth will move and straighten. The movement will depend on the alveolar bone and periodontal ligament. Their reaction to pressure is key to the success of the orthodontic device.

The good news is that braces are effective even though they only apply a gentle force against the teeth. The constant pressure causes a side of the tooth to squeeze into the periodontal membrane. Thus, it creates tension on the other side, which leads to a small space between these two surfaces.

During the application of positive and negative pressure, biological functions work to remodel the bone surrounding the teeth. Osteoblasts, which are the cells that take care of bone growth, appear on one side of the teeth. The production of the bone-growing cells takes place in the area where the deposition occurs. The deposition is where the pressure pulls the periodontal ligament from the bone.

On the other side where there is positive pressure caused by tooth compression, the osteoclasts start breaking the bone down. This process is known as resorption. It happens quite quickly, taking approximately three days to complete. Meanwhile, deposition is slower, which can take about three months.

The Procedure

The process may vary from one person to another. However, in a typical situation, an orthodontist will thoroughly clean the teeth first. A cheek retractor is fitted to ensure that teeth will be dry. It also helps keep them visible throughout the whole procedure.

After priming the teeth, a dental cement will be applied on the teeth. The adhesive will keep the brackets on the teeth. Once in the brackets are in place, the archwire will be installed into the brackets.

Elastics are then used to secure the device in place. The procedure can be finished in less than an hour.

Orthodontist performing procedure

While it’s not going to be the most comfortable experience, every precaution is taken to make sure you are comfortable.

Once the braces are fitted, the process is not done yet. You will have to keep visiting the orthodontist on average at six-week intervals. These visits are crucial because the ties that connect the wires can become overstretched, causing them to get weaker. If you do not go for an adjustment, the pressure can be greatly reduced. Plus, adjustments will need to be made to an existing archwire or even a new one would need to be placed.

During each appointment, the position of the teeth is evaluated. New ties and wires should be installed, replacing the older ones. It is common to feel soreness or tightness in the mouth every time you visit the orthodontist. This sensation can last for four to six hours but some patients reported that they could feel the soreness for several days.

It is uncomfortable but perfectly normal because of the change in the position of the teeth. Analgesic medications can aid in relieving pain, especially while eating.

What Australians Should Know Before Getting Dental Braces

If you are planning to get braces, there are some important details to know about. Most people are concerned about the cost. Braces can be quite expensive. The price in Australia varies considerably depending on the situation. Some private health insurance companies may be able to help you based on the level of cover.

Braces are for both children and adults. In fact, many adults are getting braces more than younger people. According to a 2016 report, about 30% of orthodontic patients are older than 20. It is recommended to visit an orthodontist around the age of seven when permanent teeth start to show. However, dental appointments in Australia can often be arranged between six and 10 years old.

The Australian Society of Orthodontists recommends that patients who plan to get braces should avoid certain foods a week before getting braces. They include hard lollies, popcorn, bread rolls, and anything chewy.

How long you will wear braces will depend on the teeth problem that you have. Some people complete the process in just six months while others can have them on for two years.

Removing Fixed Braces

Finally, when it is time to remove the dental braces, it means that the teeth have reached the desired positions. It is a simple process and there should be no pain involved. Ties and wires will be detached. The brackets and dental cement will be broken but the adhesive bonds will remain to protect the enamel and the teeth.

Inflammation of the gums is normal following the procedure. However, it will subside within just a few days, especially if proper oral care is applied. You are now ready to show off your perfect pearly whites.

Tags: